Handout row over ‘forgotten people’

Kirham town centre - Coun Liz Oades is angry the town hasn't had as much spent on it as St Annes.
Kirham town centre - Coun Liz Oades is angry the town hasn't had as much spent on it as St Annes.
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A RURAL councillor has demanded answers after more money was promised to regenerate St Annes.

The town – seen as the centre of next year’s Open Golf tournament – has benefited from an ongoing multi-million pound revamp, leaving residents in Kirkham feeling like the borough’s “forgotten people”, according to Coun Liz Oades, who represents the area on Fylde Council.

Coun Liz Oades

Coun Liz Oades

She said: “We’re getting increasingly fed up. It’s becoming an east-west divide when you look back and see how much has been spent on St Annes Square over the years.

“A lot of people who come to the golf will stay at Ribby Hall, which is in Wrea Green and Kirkham, and if they’re looking at bringing visitors in and spending money on infrastructure why don’t they look out here and do it?”

The latest project approved by the council’s cabinet last week will see £75,000 spent on remodelling the forecourt at St Annes Pier, with £55,000 coming from Fylde Vision – the council’s Local Strategic Partnership – and the remainder from cash already allocated to the town from the 2012 Open Golf Action plan.

The decision to splash more cash in St Annes has incensed Coun Oades, who believes only £220,000 altogether – half from Lancashire County Council and half from Fylde – has been spent on Kirkham’s economic development in recent years.

She added: “I would like to see Kirkham town centre regenerated in a similar way to St Annes. When I go round at election time people say we’re the forgotten people, they get everything in St Annes and we get nothing.”

Fylde Council said regeneration is undertaken to reflect “population need, economic significance and visitor numbers.”

Council leader David Eaves said: “The council recognises Kirkham is a focal point for a number of the rural villages in Fylde and is keen to ensure its future economic viability.

“Therefore, another relevant consideration is that the council has always maintained free car parking in Kirkham – a value in income foregone of more than £500,000 during the last 10 years.

“We have established a task and finish group to look into the economic vitality of our various town centres. When this report is back it will give us a benchmark to help decide future priorities.”

The council added the initial investment in the Square was funded by cash from the sale of the Lytham St Annes Bus Company in the late 1990s, when Kirkham also received a proportion of the cash.